A number of years ago a dear friend was in a horrible car accident, and two of her three small children were killed. There were no words of comfort worthy of her grief. So we sat in tear-filled silence for a long, long time. Then quietly I asked her, “What do you think Jesus is doing right now?” She shrugged. “Weeping,” I whispered.
Jesus sits with us in our sorrows. He understands our disappointments and carries us through the unimaginable.
When the mental illness that has enslaved our loved ones lures them into drugs, we grieve. When impulsivity pulls them into financial ruin, we cry. When untreated psychosis throws them into danger, we tremble. When depression swallows them, we mourn. When we imagine who they could have been, we weep.
And with us, each time, is Jesus.
In the book of James, we are admonished to not “grieve the Holy Spirit.” I’ve often wondered why it doesn’t say, “Do not anger the Holy Spirit.” Perhaps the Holy Spirit expresses the tender heart of the Trinity. Perhaps, like a weary mother, He sees the failure, foolishness and frailty of His children and longs for better for them. Perhaps His heart breaks over our heartbreak.
There are so many uncounted costs with mental illness—so much loss that doesn’t show up in government statistics or nonprofit surveys. As caregivers we absorb the cost of sleepless nights, of restless days, of stunned silent stares into the distance. We carry in our bodies the fatigue of stress. Continually we have to remind ourselves to not be overcome by the weight of the burden.
We have to walk the tightrope of healthy grieving and unhealthy self-pity. Often they feel the same. We need to distinguish between hopeless despair and reasonable reality. Sometimes we lack discernment to recognize when too much is too much and then seek help for ourselves.
Grief is a heavy load that Jesus offers to carry for us. And I wonder if sometimes he doesn’t offer to give us a break while He does the weeping. He carries our sorrows. He bottles our tears. He replaces our spirit of heaviness with a garland of praise. And He never, ever, never, ever leaves us to grieve alone.
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